SCOTT, Winfield (1786-1866), General, U. S. Army. Autograph letter signed ("Winfield Scott") to Generals Grant, Rosecrantz [Rosecrans] and other Commanders of Federal troops in the Valley of the Mississippi," 15 December 1862. 2 pages, 8vo., black borders.
A CHIVALROUS LETTER IN THE MIDST OF A BARBAROUS WAR. General Scott is practically swept off his feet and carried away at the thought of the woman for whom he writes this pass: "A lady, Mrs. H. P. Duncan, daughter-in-law of the eminent citizen Dr. Duncan, of Mississippi, having long been cut off from her family a long time by the rebellion, is about to set out, alone, to rejoin them in the neighborhood of Natchez. Certainly, no traveller ever less needed letters of introduction. With personal advantages & intrinsic merits which would have given her the freedom of hostile camps of Crusaders & Saracens, with the chivalric attentions of Coeur de Lion & Saladin--our fair country woman--loyal as fair--cannot fail to be protected & put forward, on her journey by every gallant man in our army." That such language seems ironic, even preposterous to us today is a measure of how completely American ideas about warfare changed during the Civil War. The brutality of the fighting, death on a massive scale, trench warfare, total mobilization of societies, the targeting of civilians, even the skeletal prisoners rescued in camps at the end--it was as if all the nightmare images of 20th century war were presaged between 1861-1865. An aged gentleman like "Old Fuss and Feathers" could never be the leader to win such a contest. Only a grimly determined man like Ulysses Grant, stripped bare of any conceptions of war as a chivalric, romantic exercise, could do it.